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48-hour Ultimatum: Marte, Dikwa Communities In Borno Still Under Boko Haram Three Days After, Military Source, Cleric Say

February 23, 2021

Attahiru had on Sunday during an operational visit to Dikwa gave a 48-hour ultimatum to the troops to clear Boko Haram insurgents off captured areas of the state.

Three days after the Chief of Army Staff, Ibrahim Attahiru, gave troops 48 hours to recapture communities and enclaves held by Boko Haram insurgents, SaharaReporters learnt that towns and villages in Marte and Dikwa local government areas of Borno State are still under the control of the terrorists.

SaharaReporters gathered that the terrorists have also hoisted their flag in many places in the communities.

Boko Haram Terrorists

Attahiru had on Sunday during an operational visit to Dikwa gave a 48-hour ultimatum to the troops to clear Boko Haram insurgents off captured areas of the state.

He said, “Areas around Marte, Chikingudu, Wulgo, Kirenowa, and Kirta must be cleared in the next 48 hours. You must not let this nation down. Go back and do the needful and I will be right behind you.

“You should rest assured of all the support you require in this very onerous task. You are aware of the recent attack on Dikwa and Marte, you should not allow this to happen again; go after them and clear these bastards.”

SaharaReporters gathered that 72-hours after the order, most villages in Marte, including Kirenowa, the biggest town in the LGA are still under the control of Boko Haram sect.

The villagers are also being held as human shields by the gunmen to avoid airstrikes by the Nigerian Air Force, a military source said.

The source, however, told SaharaReporters that the military hopes to clear the insurgents from the reported areas in the next 24 hours.

“Dikwa is no more under attack, just Marte and some few villages and we are going to retake it either today or tomorrow,” he said.

The insurgents had on Monday, February 15 overrun the communities, and while most of the villagers were able to run away for safety, some were held by the insurgents.

SaharaReporters gathered that the gunmen came with heavy machine guns and trucks to take possession of the military formation in Marte, including high profile fighting equipment and vehicles.

Though the military source said Dikwa was not under attack, the Director General, Centre for Justice on Religion and Ethnicity in Nigeria, Pastor Kallamu Musa Ali Dikwa, who is from the local government area, said some villages had been under siege of Boko Haram terrorists for over six years and that nothing had changed since the ultimatum given by the Chief of Army Staff.

According to him, the military troops have overpowered Boko Haram terrorists in Dikwa town, especially at the local government headquarters but the villages are still under insurgents' control. 

Dikwa stated this in reaction to the 48-hour ultimatum given by Attahiru to the troops of Operation Lafiya Dole to reclaim Kirenowa, Kirta, Wulgo, Chikingudo, and other communities under Boko Haram control.

The cleric said, “The Boko Haram had not been able to take over Dikwa town, they tried to enter but were countered by soldiers but the terrorists have taken over our villages. This happened six years ago and military personnel have not been able to penetrate our villages to recapture them from Boko Haram, they are sitting in the town. The soldiers are at the local government headquarters.

“There's a place called Banki in Dikwa; the military personnel are staying there but there are no villagers there, they've all moved to internally displaced persons’ camps.

“These terrorists have also taken over Marte. As at this morning (Tuesday), Marte is still being overtaken by Boko Haram, no military intervention yet.”

He said the military authorities should stop deceiving Nigerians with the 48-hour ultimatum given to soldiers to recapture those parts of Borno State from Boko Haram terrorists.

Dikwa said it was impossible for the troops to recapture the said areas within 48 hours.

The cleric questioned the COAS's directive when his predecessor, Tukur Buratai, had earlier said it would take 20 years for insurgency to end in the North-East.

He said, “When Buratai said fighting insurgence will take more than 20 years, he knew what he was saying. All these orders by the military, commanding soldiers to recover areas under 48 hours, they're deceiving themselves. 

“For the man to have said it would take 20 years to fight insurgency, they know what they did, they know what they have done. They're only giving orders for formality’s sake. There is an NGO that negotiates with Boko Haram to release people after paying ransom which is believed to be sponsored by Buratai.  The current chief of army staff and the former staff, what is the difference between them?”

According to reports, the governor of Borno State, Babagana Umara Zulum, expressed confidence that the Nigerian troops would reclaim Marte and its environs within the 48-hour target given to them.

SaharaReporters recalled that Marte was sometime in 2012 taken over by the Boko Haram fighters who held sway for over two years at the height of their territorial conquests.

However, on February 2, 2015, the Nigerian Army recaptured the town from the terrorists, including big towns like Gamboru, Mafa, Mallam Fatori and Abadam.

Boko Haram and its offshoot, Islamic State West Africa Province, have become more ferocious in recent times.

The Nigerian Army has repeatedly claimed that the insurgency had been largely defeated and frequently underplays any losses.

The terror group has caused over 40,000 deaths and displaced millions of individuals mainly in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states.